Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or go bowling. This is one of those times.

America is now in a Great Jobs Depression that has already lasted 10 years and continues to rage unabated across the land, devastating the middle class. Yet it took two months and endless compromises this summer for Senate Democrats to woo the few Republican votes needed to pass even a weak and meek jobs bill to help deter mass firings of schoolteachers and firefighters by local governments. Pious, purse-lipped Republicans–who have eagerly backed Wall Street bailouts, needless wars, and other budget-busting expenditures–demanded that other programs be cut as the price of saving these essential public-service jobs.

So, what program did our stalwart senators choose to loot? Food stamps!

Yes, even as millions of Americans are stuck in long-term, relentless unemployment, thus increasing the urgent need for family assistance, our well-fed, big-butted Solons grabbed nearly $12 billion from the supplemental nutrition assistance program. This puts the “dumb” in dumbfounding.

Because of the economic collapse caused by the reckless greed of Wall Street bankers, there has been a 50 percent increase in the past two years in the number of Americans relying on food stamps. In the coming months, more and more people–including schoolteachers and firefighters–are going to lose their jobs, and many of them will need the helping hand that Congress has now so stupidly and callously withdrawn.

Instead of stealing funds from our country’s essential food stamp program, Congress should get the money for its jobs bill by taxing the multibillion-dollar bonuses that Wall Street bankers are paying themselves. And if that’s not enough money, cut the pay, pensions, and health-care freebies that Congress critters give to themselves–most of them need to go on a diet anyway.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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